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HomeCare & Hospice helps Wellsville woman fulfill her desire to stay at home

Although we have permission to share this story, we have changed the name of the patient and her husband. Mrs. Smith has since passed away.  

Mary Smith wanted to spend her remaining days at home. When, Mrs. Smith, 87, was given a diagnosis of terminal cancer, her physician recommended the services of HomeCare & Hospice. “My doctor said I had about six months to live and there were two choices. I could go into a nursing home or have hospice come in. She said hospice would keep me at home. I said, ‘That’s what I want – I want to stay right here,’” recalled the lifelong Wellsville resident. 

The Hospice program provides skilled nursing care, social work, spiritual care, hospice aides and trained volunteers, as well as pain and symptom control and medical supplies related to terminal illness. The agency focuses on quality of life. Medicare, Medicaid, most private insurances, and public support, such as the United Way, cover the cost. 

A year after her diagnosis, Mrs. Smith has good days and bad days, but is still living independently in her senior housing complex. She likes having the choice of staying in bed in the morning or going downstairs to chat with the neighbors. 

“They meet every morning at 9 a.m. for coffee. If I don’t show up, my neighbor will come and bring me a cup and check on me to make sure I’m all right, but I don’t have anyone telling me when I have to get up or when to go bed,” she added. 

 Mrs. Smith does as much for herself as she can. She still gets around with a walker or power chair and, while she receives Meals on Wheels, does a little cooking now and then. She observes, though, that she is slowing down. 

 “I do a little bit and I get tired,” she said. 

She spent much of her life caring for her family. She and her late husband, John, raised five children. She had to adjust to letting other people help care for her. A Hospice Aide comes three days a week and helps with bathing, light housekeeping and laundry. “She’s a big help and I really appreciate her,” said Mrs. Smith. “At first I didn’t want anyone to help shower me, but then I got her and I really felt comfortable with her. She’s so good to me, so kind.” 

Mrs. Smith also receives regular visits from a registered nurse. “She asks me how I feel and takes my blood pressure. We talk about medication and what my pain is like. We like to chat about our friends and talk about everything,” she said, adding that she also enjoys the companionship of a hospice volunteer. 

Staying at home with care and support from HomeCare & Hospice allows Mrs. Smith to have her family in for visits. “I have four daughters and one son. My daughters all like to come together and they bring some of their children. We have a lot of fun,” she said. 

She credits her faith and a positive attitude for keeping her going. “There are days when think I can’t do it anymore and then there are days when I feel better.  You can’t sit around wondering when you’re going to die – you’ll make yourself miserable. I don’t think it will make anyone feel any better. 

My faith in God is the biggest thing in my whole life. When you have that you can be cheerful,” said Mrs. Smith. She added, “I’m glad I can be at home. I’m glad I have hospice. They all care so much.” 

HomeCare & Hospice, a non-profit United Way member agency, provides specialized medical care and social/emotional support for patients and families coping with terminal illness in Cattaraugus, Allegany, Wyoming and Genesee counties.  The institution is an equal opportunity provider, and employer.

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